Created By: NoraJuly 17, 2011

Prologue War

The war that sets everything up for the main story.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Do We Have This One?

The story you read/watch/play is the second war of its kind, but it's the one that will end the conflict. I'm thinking about the First Cylon War in Battlestar Galactica and the first war against Voldemort in Harry Potter, but I'm sure I've seen this elsewhere. It's useful because it sets up a group of people who already know how to fight and can teach the hero, it also can help lend a sense of gravitas to the situation because of the "oh crap Voldemort is back" factor.

Anyone have more examples?
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • July 17, 2011
    civilian
    In Star Wars IV A New Hope Obi-wan references the Clone Wars, which is definitely a prologue war. There are also a lot of prologue wars in Tolkein's works. Would the wars being shown in prequels still allow the existence of Prologue Wars?

  • July 17, 2011
    civilian
    Also here are some potentially related articles: Backstory StartOfDarkness WhenItAllBegan

  • July 17, 2011
    JonnyB
    The Lord Of The Rings begins with Galadriel recounting the story of the last war with Sauron.
  • July 17, 2011
    asbjfalfkj
    The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time has the great Deku Tree giving us an account of a war that resulted in Link and his mother taking refuge in the Kokiri Forest.
  • July 18, 2011
    MiinU

    Western animation

    • Avatar The Last Airbender opens with Katara giving a brief recount of how the war with the Fire Nation began. She also explains the Avatar's role in maintaining the world's balance, and how he vanished over a hundred years ago... until she and her brother found the new Avatar: Aang.
  • July 18, 2011
    Xtifr
    Literature
    • Enders Game is set after two inconclusive wars with the Buggers, as Earth prepares for an inevitable third. (Its sequels all deal with the aftermath of the Third Bugger War.)

    Live Action TV
    • Firefly has its American Civil War in SPACE!! The pilot episode actually starts during the war, but quickly flashes forward, and the aftermath of the war is a major plot point in many other episodes.

  • July 18, 2011
    AFP
    I believe this might be Great Offscreen War.
  • July 18, 2011
    JonnyB
    Looks like it.
  • July 18, 2011
    MiinU
    ^^@AFP -- I respectfully disagree. In my mind, Great Offscreen War would be Exactly What It Says On The Tin: the war we hear about, yet never see. This trope seems to suggest that the war in question may or may not be seen and still has ramifications; thus being used as a catalyst to set the story in motion.

    The Great War in Tales Of Vesperia would be a prime example of the trope you're referring to. The gamer only hears about it, but is never shown so much as a glimpse of it. Raven and Duke, both survivors of the war, offer occasional tidbits on it, but that's about it. The closest we ever come to seeing anything of it, ourselves, is found on the mural in Myorzo.

    The war with the Fire Nation, on the other hand, seems more like what this trope is suggesting. The very first episode begins with Katara giving a recount of how the war began, via a voiceover, set to images of it. As the series progresses, we're shown more as the series revists the past. The reason we don't see more than this is because the point was to keep the plot moving forward. A hundred years is a long time and way too much ground to cover without clogging things up. Frankly, I'm impressed by what they managed to squeeze in while keeping things moving at a steady clip.

    Anyway, I think this one is valid enough to be a trope on its own. At the very least, it could be a companion or sister trope of Great Offscreen War. Just my 2 cents.
  • July 19, 2011
    Blackfish
    Literature
    • Robert's Rebellion/War of the Usurper in George R R Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire sets up the political situation in place at the start of the series.
      • Balon Greyjoy's failed first rebellion in the same series is a Prologue War too for the ironmen.
  • July 19, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    There seems to be a useful distinction here. It's also possible that Great Offscreen War could become this trope if/when the creators make a Prequel. Katherine Kurtz started The Chronicles of the Deryni circa 1970 and had references to the Festillic Interregnum and the resulting backlash in that trilogy; some years later, she began writing the prequel trilogies (Camber and The Heirs of Camber) which actually showed the end of the Interregnum, the Haldane Restoration and the first years of the persecutions.
  • July 20, 2011
    Koveras
    The First Blight is depicted only in the prologue of Dragon Age: Origins, and only in stylized images. However, it does explain the basic conflict of the game.
  • July 20, 2011
    terrafox
    • Contra: Hard Corps is all about a plot set in motion by a famous hero (turned evil) from a set of consecutive and very devastating wars that occurred five years prior (you play through those wars in the preceeding Contra games).
  • July 20, 2011
    AFP
    If it's a separate trope, it's definitely a subtrope, rather than a sister trope.
  • July 20, 2011
    ayjazz
    • The Great War in Fallout that nuked the entire world and created the setting of the series.
  • July 21, 2011
    Nora
    Honestly I think Great Offscreen War probably covers it, but if anyone wants to get super specific up in here ya'll are welcome to it?
  • July 22, 2011
    Xtifr
    I think this might work better as After The War, a Setting trope.
  • July 22, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    The Ishabal Massacre doesn't set up the basic premise of Fullmetal Alchemist, but it's a major subplot and the scheme behind it gradually emerges as the main plot.
  • July 22, 2011
    c0ry
    In the MMORPG Rift, members of the Guardian faction start out fighting at the end of the Mathosian War, which is an invasion from the Plane of Death (led by Regulos) as their introductory sequence. The real meat of the game, however, takes place after these first few character levels, after the character is sent twenty years into the future to fight in the next war against the planes.
  • March 7, 2015
    Gowan
    The Great Offscreen War is, according to its description, a war of which we never learn what caused it, or who won it.

    • In A Brothers Price there was a civil war in the not so distant past, in which Jerin's grandmothers fought, acquired their husband, and were knighted afterwards, which makes the Whistlers landed gentry, even though the title wasn't inherited by anyone. It is also remembered by the royal family of the realm, who aim to avoid a second such war.

    • In Dragon Bones, there is a revolution/war in the past that explains why two countries that are part of a single kingdom hate each other's guts, and which is also part of the backstory of one point of view character. It is well known who fought in it, who saved whose life in it, and who won.
  • March 7, 2015
    zarpaulus
    Comic Books
    • In Albedo Erma Felna EDF the First ILR-ConFed war was some 30 years previous. The series starts with the ILR beginning the second war.
  • March 7, 2015
    DAN004
    Now, is this when the prologue mentions a war, or when the prologue has a war?

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